After opening the season as a borderline playoff team, the Minnesota Timberwolves took a deep tumble and ended up finishing 36-46 for 11th place in the West. Jimmy Butler forced his way out of town and Andrew Wiggins has yet to reach the potential everyone once dreamed of. The backcourt returns Jeff Teague who’s in his second year and rookie Jarrett Culver. Robert Covington will get a full year with the Timberwolves squad and veterans Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns will be the top options once again.
While he’s no longer in his glory days, Jeff Teague still serves as a startable point guard for Minnesota and will look to be a passer rather than a shooter. He reached a career high 8.2 assists last season, though his other stats all took a fall. The 12.1 points per game was the lowest he’s had since his 2011-12 season and all his shooting percentages fell. His field goal percentage was 42.3% compared to a 44.5% career average and the 80.4% free throw percentage was the third lowest of his career. Even though he’s only entering his age 31 season, Teague’s glory days seem to be over and he’ll likely be a complimentary piece more than a star caliber player on most rosters.
At the shooting guard position will be recent #6 overall pick, Jarrett Culver. He’s a nice, versatile guard who was great defensively and has potential to grow on the offensive end. Last year, he averaged 18.5 points, 3.7 assists, and 6.4 rebounds which led to Big XII Player of the Year honors. Culver also has experience at the point if the Timberwolves decide it’s time to move on from Teague though he’s more experienced with playing off-ball. In his rookie season, I expect improvement on the shooting end as the explosive guard will have many opportunities to make his mark on the league. On the defense, he’s got great size and will have the ability to lock onto opposing guards.
For some reason, Andrew Wiggins never seems to have figured out how to be a star in the NBA. Once the #1 overall pick, Wiggins has yet to appear in an All Star Game and lacks the ability to knock down shots in clutch moments. While he does average roughly 20 points in his career, those numbers have fallen in recent years as his skillset seems to have diminished. He did set career highs in assists (2.5) and rebounds (4.8) though remains a fairly one dimensional small forward. For the second year in a row, his free throw percentage sat below 70%. Wiggins looks primed for another average season and may no longer have the potential to actually become one of the league’s best.
Though he only suited up for 22 games, Robert Covington had perhaps his best season to date. During his short time with the Timberwolves, he averaged a career high 14.5 points along with 1.5 assists and 5.7 rebounds. Among all players, Covington has the least accomplished track record and is likely one of their last options on the shooting end. He’ll likely be a spot shooter for Minnesota that sets up for a bunch of threes as he did average 6.7 of them last year. He’s a solid player but nothing more than a serviceable forward that can score and grab a few boards.
Ever since he was drafted, Karl-Anthony Towns has consistently been the starting center for Minnesota and has a very good track record of staying healthy. In four seasons, he’s only missed 5 games and has grown to be their best offensive and defensive threat. He averaged 24.4 points, 3.4 assists, and 12.4 rebounds last year and only looks primed to improve next year. KAT will undoubtedly be Minnesota’s first option on offense though he’ll certainly need to prove he can be a better presence in the paint. While his field goal percentage has changed, KAT added a three point shot to his game that if he can convert consistently, could solidify his status as a top center in the league.